HEAVE LY TREASURES CO TRASTED WITH EARTHLY -BY WM. M. WIGHTMA , D. D.

, PRESIDE T OF WOFFORD COLLEGE,

" Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." — Matt, vi, 19-21. This passage is taken from our Lord's sermon on the mount — a sermon of important texts, as it has been happily described — a sermon, of which the preacher is the Word and Wisdom of God ; every sentiment of which is as practical and adapted to daily life, as it is weighty and clad with the authority of a teacher sent directly from God. The subject which is thus brought to our attention contains the highest wisdom, and involves the duty and happiness of time, the destiny of eternity. The text presents a contrast between earthly treasures and heavenly ; it presses an earnest warning against the seductions of the one, and an equally earnest direction to secure the other. The spirit of the passage is, that spiritual and heavenly things are, and ought to be considered, the great objects of pursuit to man, since they alone are imperishable, satisfying, and worthy of the ambition of an immortal mind. The terms in which the great lesson of the text is delivered, are to be interpreted with the scope, intention, and limitations, furnished by the whole revelation of Divine Truth. Thus, the injunction, <' Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth," is not to bo understood as a peremptory prohibition against all prudent foresight for

10 HEAVE LY A D EAKTHLY *'uture wants — against all accumulation of property, with whatever intention ; but the expression means, according to the Hebrew idiom, that we should prefer heavenly to earthly treasures — should seek them first and foremost — as of a value and importance infinitely higher. Thus, further on, the great Teacher bids us take no thought for the morrow ; evidently, from the whole scope of the discourse, meaning

no anxious thought — the precept lying not against forethought altogether, (one of the noblest attributes of human intelligence) — but against all such carking care for the morrow as a distrust of the Divine Providence would beget, and which would be fatal to settled peace of mind. It is undeniable that the present life has its claims — subordinate, certainly, to the higher claims of the life to come, yet in their measure real and substantial, and demanding our serious regard. ay, these subordinate interests are themselves included in the covenant grant of the gospel, and made matters of specific promise : " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto 3'ou." Whilst therefore the injunction of the test does not oppose a proper attention to the temporary interests of human life, it may be understood to lie against the hoarding up of useless wealth. Absurd as such a procedure is, it often happens that money is accumulated solely for its own sake, and without any respect to its uses and advantages. The insane passion of the miser who starves in his wretched garret that he may add to his gains, is only an extreme illustration of a tendency too often witnessed. Even large wealth may be so held as to confer no benefit upon its possessor or the world. Instead of being regarded as an important talent committed to us to be wisely and generously used, it may be looked upon as absolutely our own, and hoarded up as though God and the world had no right to demand at our hands a religious employment of it — no poor man may be relieved, no benevolent institution fostered, no religious interest served by it. Eiches may become not our servants, but our masters. We may surrender ourselves to the domination of the sordid lust of gain, sacrifice conscience and duty to God in this wretched servitude, and glory in the gilded badges of our slavery. Obviously, " no man can serve God and Mammon." Furthermore, the spirit of the precept here delivered by our Lord implies that the acquisition of property is not to be matter of anxiety to us, so as to prevent our contentment with the lot ia life in which

TREASURES CO TRASTED. 11 Providence has placed us, or our constant dependence on God. We hold that it is every man's privilege to endeavor to better his circumstances. This may be attempted in a spirit of discontent, of murmuring and repining at our present condition ; or it may be done in a far different spirit, and in due submission to the Divine will. While the latter is both lawful and commendable, the former course is interdicted, and carries its condemnation in its face.

We hardly need to add, that the precept before us prohibits the accumulation of property for unworthy and sinful ends. Whenever it is an object of ardent desire and eager pursuit, that it may foster our pride, pamper luxurious tastes, minister to sinful pleasures, encourage eflfeminacy, or dissolve our energies in indolent repose, then at once the motive desecrates the pursuit. Sought for such ends, wealth becomes an unmitigated curse to the soul. The lesson taught us in the text is the vast superiority of heavenly treasures over earthly ; and the emphatic exhortation given us is to lay up the former rather than the latter. This superiority is exhibited in the following particulars : 1. Their incorruptibility ; 2. Their security ; 3. Their suitableness to the spiritual, immortal nature of man. Then the exhortation is enforced by the considerations — 1. Of the susceptibility of augmentation in the case of heavenly treasures ; and, 2. Of the invariable connection between our affections and our treasures. In general terms, treasure may be defined as provision for the future. What instinct supplies to the bee and the ant, reason and experience teach man. The fact that our necessities require daily supplies, suggests the propriety of anticipating to-day the wants of to-morrow, and providing to meet them as they come. Even in a state of semi-savageism, the Indian of the prairies learns that winter will come, when his supplies from the chase must cease, and that corn should be planted in the spring to furnish him with food, when other resources fail. Earthly treasures, particularly among ancient Oriental nations, consisted of stores of con, wine, and oil ; of ampla wardrobes of rich and costly garments ; of numerous flocks and herds ; of gems and precious stones ; of silver and golden vessels. In modern times, earthly treasures are composed of landed estates, splendid mansions, elegant furniture, galleries of art, cellars stocked with wines, stables filled with horses, ample revenues from fixed capital, and the like.

12 nEAVEXLY A D EARTHLY " Heavenly treasures" is an expression meant to mark and j-et forth the resources and reversionary interests of an immortal spirit, brought into possession of the favor of God, created anew in the Divine image, and made graciously an heir of the promises of the gospel in Christ Jesus. These may be summed up in the rielies of grace for the life that now is, and the riches of glory in the life which is to come. They are, of course, spiritual, satisfying, immortal.

These two are contrasted in the text. The superiority of heavenly treasures is seen, first, in their incorruptibility. Earthly treasures, in their ancient form, were emphatically corruptible. The stores of corn, wine, and oil, were perishable. Their rich wardrobes, their costly fabrics of silk and wool, were proverbially the prey of the moth and mildew. The corrosions of rust affected their precious metals. If modern treasures seem to claim an exemption from the rapid processes of natural decay, they nevertheless are subject in the long run to the same law of decay. The towered castle, whit-h a few generations ago seemed to stand in monumental grandeur, defying the tooth of time, falls ultimately into ruin ; the lichens and ivy grow in the widening crevices of its walls ; the gradual inroads of boat and moisture, of wind and rain, are all the while corroding battlemented turrets, iron-ribbed gates, granite foundations. A few hundred years will suffice to lay low the proudest structures of wealth and ambition. How stands the case with heavenly treasures? They are intellectual, consequently of the essence of mind itself; spiritual, and resist the law of decay which attaches to material substances ; immortal and eternal as the God whose favor, attributes, glory, and heaven, constitute part and parcel of them. War, famine, fire, sword, revolution, and whatever else may be found to alienate earthl}- possessions, cannot touch these heavenly treasures. They enter into the constitution of the mind itself, and defy the point of the sword, the engines of torture, the inquisitor's faggot, the executioner's axe, the decay of the body, the very grave itself. So far, then, as corruptibility is concerned, there may be contrast, — there can be no comparison. Or, secondly, if we look at the security of each, the same conclusion is inevitable. In addition to an inherent principle of decay, earthly treasures are proverbially insecure. What is spared by gradual waste, juay bo seized by sudden violence. The estate may remain in its loveliness of wood and water, of mansion, garden, and

TREASURES CO TRASTED. 13 field ; but some unlooked-for civil commotion may pluck it from our hands, and turn us out of its possession. Lightning may rend ancestral halls ; the incendiary's fires may leave the palace a blackened ruin. Or, if we overlook fortuitous visitations of calamity ; if we suppose that no commercial convulsions shall shake the securities on which we lean, — no popular tumult overturn the established foundations of property, and send us adrift upon a sea covered with the

wrecks of fortune ; yet at least, it is the inevitable doom that we must ourselves, ere long, leave all earthly possessions behind. Let the man of wealth multiply his precautions. I care not if he be a monarch, and can post an army around his palace. Disease laughs at the glittering array of his guards ; walks with unceremonious front along his corridors, across his portals, into his embroidered chamber, indifferent to its robes of state, and its Arabian perfumes. Death, who cannot be bribed by the gold of an empire, challenges his victim. Like the meanest serf, the throned king must heed, must obey that summons. Every man that lives and breathes must reckon on such a visitation. Then where is the rich man's wealth ? Can he carry his millions into the eternal state 1 Will his bonds and stocks, his landed property, his merchant-ships with Eastern cargoes — will any of these be available to him in that dread futurity which is his eternal lot ? So far as earthly treasures are concerned, what is the difi'erence between the soul of a rich man and of a beggar, a moment after death ? Can you tell, as each takes its flight to its eternal destination, which was fortune's favorite, and which has just left its garret and its rags ? Tell me not, then, of treasures held by so frail a tenure, and which, sooner or later, by an inevitable destiny, will desert us I Contemplate, on the other hand, heavenly treasures, especially in connection with the close of life. Down to the meeting-place between eternity and time, the treasures of earth may follow us ; but there they fail us. A winding-sheet and six feet of earth is all that remains of hoarded millions. How diiferent is the case in respect to the treasures of the soul ! Death shall sooner quench the dimless ray of intellect, and dissolve the indestructible, essence of mind, and annihilate the grave-defying soul of man, than toucli the inward peace, the calm serenity, the assured faith in the Redeemer, the mounting hope, the heaven-kindled love, the far-flying joy, in which ure found the true treasures of the gracious soul. Let the body die '

14 HEAVE LY A D EARTHLY Let the last expiring struggle give the signal of sorrow to those who have hung with speechless anxiety over the couch of sickness. Carry to the grave, and to cold oblivion, the frail vehicle in which the spii'it has passed its earthly sojourn. Death but sets the spirit free ; and with its indestructible treasures that spirit hastens to its endless home in the heavenly country, in the eternal city of God ! Thirdly. We may try the case by considering the relative suitableness of earthly and heavenly treasures to the wants of man. And

here it is admitted that earthly treasures, to some extent, do minister to the necessities of the present life. Man lives, in part at least, by bread. So long as his daily labor suffices to procure what is necessary to sustain life and give vigor to health, he is to a large extent independent of wealth. evertheless, sickness may wither the muscular arm and bend the stout frame. It is desirable that some provision should be made for age, infirmity, the education of children, and general usefulness in the world. Be it so. Yet, after all, it remains true that " Man wants but little here below, or wants that little long." Over and beyond the amount of property needful for this, and leaving out of consideration a christian use of riches, it is maintained that wealth in itself has no property to satisfy the inner cravings of the soul. The rich man thinks he can afford to keep a luxurious table. Be it so. Let the ends of the earth be put under contribution to minister to his palate. After all, he can eat but three times a day — at most, four ; and each time only a given quantity ; if he goes beyond that, dyspepsia and gout arc the penalty. His cellar may be stocked with the wines of Italy, Spain, and the Rhine : he can drink but his single bottle at his dinner. His hard-working neighbor goes to his homely fare with an edge of appetite vastly keener, and enjoys his frugal meal with a relish as exquisite as the millionaire. Hunger is the best sauce, and a good digestion obviates all nccessit}' for a French cook. The poor man sits at his humble board with his little family ; the rich gourmand invites company — in most cases, a set of mere parasites. His saloons arc opened to a gay crowd of triflcrs, and music and dancing, silly flirtation or ill-dissembled licentiousness, while away the tedious hours. Allow that all this did actually satisfy the soul, why, the tranquil pleasures of a quiet family fireside do the same. The rich man pays his thousand

TREASURES CO TRASTED. 15 dollars for his night's dissipation, and tells you he has enjoyed himself; the other pays nothing, and enjoys himself fully as much, without the fuming and flurry of spirits beforehand, and perchance the vexation, headache, and touches of remorse, afterwards. How is the one any better off, so far as satisfaction is concerned, than the other ? The case would be different, we admit, if wealth could buy peace of mind, genius, beauty, learning, wit, or even love. But none of these are marketable qualities ; they are not to be commanded by

money. o, nor even exemption from sickness, much less the approach of death. The man of wealth may change his locality at will. He may cross seas, scale mountains, visit watering-places ; but he cannot get away from himself ; he cannot escape the tedium of a listless mind, the weariness of a sated palate, and a heart ill at ease. And for the rest, he breathes nothing better than the common air which expands the lungs of the meanest slave ; he cannot appropriate to himself heaven's sunshine — free to all ; the very same sky expands over the poor ; its " majestical canopy fretted with golden fire," its sunset draperies, its gorgeous cloud-pictures, are spread out to the eye of the poor and the rich alike. But behold, how deep, how vast, are the real wants of a soul immaterial. That man was emphatically a fool, who said to his soul — " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry!" Can any of the combinations of material, gross, outward things satisfy the pinings of a spirit made in the image of Grod, and fill the abysmal depths of its capacities ? It must occasionally speculate upon its origin and destiny. It must ever and anon revolve the awful problems of life and death, of time and eternity, moral probation and endless retribution. In quest of an adequate and self-satisfying enjoyment, it must often ask the question, " Who will show us any good ?" Conscious of guilt, it must inquire, " How can a man be just with God ?" What the soul wants is knowledge — truth, especially of a moral and spiritual kind. Its vigor comes from an enlightened, well-working conscience. Its wealth is not that vulgar thing which is reckoned in pounds sterling. Its property is cultivated moral sentiment, purified affections, high and holy communion with God and goodness. To make it rich, you must make it partaker of the provisions of mercy and grace in the gospel. It must find an interest in the favor of God through faith in the sacrifice of the redeeming Son. It must have a well-grounded

16 HEAVE LY A D EARTHLY and clearly ascertained consciousness of this favor. Then it possesses the peace which passeth understanding. Its satisfactions are all from within, and therefore independent of outward circumstances. Its joy is the exultant glow of a spirit in vital communion with the Supreme goodness, truth, and holiness ; and it moves on in a path of brightening improvement — of jubilant progress — towards an endless home in Heaven, the glorious goal of its aspirations and efforts. These are the treasures which the gracious soul finds in the gospel, and finding is satisfied, and rejoices and is glad all the days of its earthly pilgrimage.

But, besides : the soul is immortal. Its conscious existence outruns the brief limits of its probationary term on earth ; survives the stroke of death which dissolves the body ; and sweeps onward around the orbit of a measureless eternity. '« The spirit shall return to Him Who gave the heavenly spark ; Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim, When thou thyself art dark." Long after the transitory things of earth are passed away and forgotten, it shall remain young, fresh, hale, in the earlier stages of its immortal career. othing deserves the name of treasure — provision for the future — which does not embrace immortality, and take in, as the main element of its reckoning, the eternal destination of the soul. How strikingly does St. Peter describe, though in negative terms, the reversionary wealth of those who are " begotten again" — as " an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens." Their crown is " a crown of life ;" their glory, " a far, more, exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Earthly treasures, on the other hand, considered not in the light of talents to be used for the glory of God and the good of man — rested in as sources of enjoyment, — trusted to as a means of meeting future necessities, — fail, as a matter of course, to answer the wants of our immortal nature. They are of the earth, earthy ; they perish in the using ; or we fly away and leave them forever. " I have seen minute-glasses," says one of the old men eloquent of the 17th century, — *' glasses so short-lived. If I were to preach upon this text, to such a glass, it were enough for half the sermon ; enough to show the worldly man his treasure and the object of his heart, to call his eye to that minute-glass, and to tell him, there flows, there flies your

TREASURES CO TRASTED. 17 treasure, and your heart with it. But if I had a secular glass, a glass that would run an age : if the two hemispheres of the world were composed in the form of such a glass, and all the world calcined and burnt to ashes, and all the ashes and sands and atoms of the world put into that glass, it would not be enough to tell the good man what his treasure and the object of his heart is." " Lay up for yourselves treasure in Heaven." There is, finally, an exhortation addressed to us on the basis of the foregoing considerations, to lay up heavenly treasures. And how strong is the appeal

when the incorruptibility, security, and satisfying nature of these are considered. It is worth our while to make accumulations, if these may be depended on. We spend not our strength for nought. We labor with animating encouragement when we are sure that our labor tells with certain effect upon ultimate success. There is a strong instinct in the human bosom which prompts us to acquisition ; which seeks for property ; which goes out after a possession we can call our own ; which can be added to and increased by daily or yearly accumulations. This instinct is most commonly turned into earthly channels, and expends its energies upon earthly objects. Christianity comes to refine, expand, ennoble it. It shows us durable riches : *' Riches above what earth can give, And lasting as the mind." We are exhorted to add ; to give all diligence to add. Abundance is attainable. Ampler wealth, vaster resources, enlarged opulence, incite our ambition and stir our laggard pulses. Is it of the nature of treasure to multiply ? Then lay up treasures in heaven. He that had received five talents went and traded with them, and made them five talents more. " Lay up," by visiting the eick, and ministering to the wants of the destitute. " Lay up," by taking God's cause to heart. " Lay up," by taking God's cause in hand. " Lay up," by resisting a temptation, by acquiring or strengthening a virtue. Do you possess earthly treasures ? Tremble at your danger ; for " how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven." Avert that danger by taking heed to the Apostolic injunction : " Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy : that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute,

18 HEAVE LT A D EARTHLY ¦willirjg to communicate ; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Are you poor? "Godliness with contentment is great gain." What is time to eternity ? " If a son, then an heir ; an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ." Well may you be content, with such a destiny before you. Be rich in faith. Cherish the patience of hope. YdUr earthly capital may be small, and your accumulations may correspond. It matters little : your spiritual capital — your soul-treasure, is the main thing. Industry, activity,

consecration to God — what accumulations will they not secure ! Let shame flush our cheek when we see men of the world in pursuit of gold : toiling by day, scheming by night, diverted from their object by no obstacle, alarmed by no danger, periling health, reputation, life itself, that they may lay up earthly treasures. We profess to put a right estimate upon these, in contrast with heavenly treasures ; and yet how is our lagging zeal put to the blush, our feeble endeavors shamed, by the example. Lay up, lay up heavenly treasures I Dwarf not your expectations to the mean ambition of merely escaping hell — of reaching Heaven, so to speak, by shipwreck. Go for an ovation ; more still, for a conqueror's triumph ! Covet an abundant entrance. Aspire to a crown. Win a palace. All Heaven smiles on aspirations like these. Jesus himself bids you lay up. Build your accumulations higher, and higher still. Shine out, 0, City of God, with jeweled gates and golden walls and streets ! Attract us by the vision of thy loveliness, win us by the melody of thine anthems ! Thou art our true and proper home ; where else should be our treasures "^ The exhortation of our Lord, in the text, finds its closing consideration in the fact, that where our treasure is there will our heart be also. ow, nothing is more certain than that God claims our heart. The first and great commandment is, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." This law is paramount. It lies against that subtle idolatry which is so often paid to wealth. o shrine may be set up ; no pageantry of outward worship may mark the devotee. He may not bend the knee before an idol, the symbol of the divinity which rules his heart ; and yet the homage may be profound as the depths of the fioul. We have only to ask what subject engrosses the thoughts^ and possesses the greatest attraction for us. Wo recoil from the

TREASURES CO TRASTED. 10 grosser forms of idolatry ; and yet wealth may as effectually dethrone the supreme God, usurp the ascendency over us, and constitute for us the great good of life, as though we considered the exchange a temple of worship, our ledgers sacred books written in cabalistic letters, and the various investments of money the household gods to which the homage of profound trust and daily devotion was due. Our attention, our delight, our confidence, may all be transferred from the Creator, blessed forever, to the creature. Satisfied with the stream we may forget the fountain ; engrossed with the augmentation of worldly resources, we may become blind to the primary, originating source of whatever is desirable on earth. Thus, to love the world so

as to make it practically our great good, to trust in riches, is to deny the God that is above. Here then we are brought to a solemn pause. We must choose the one or the other ;. God or the world ; heavenly or earthly treasures. Oh, for that faith which is the evidence of things unseen ! — which, passing through the shadowy phantoms of the present and the visible, grasps the eternal substance. That alone which is solid, substantial, abiding, is worthy of the heart of man ; fills its ideas and its hopes ; realizes its expectations, and exhausts its capacities of enjoyment. " ow, unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever." Amen.

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